I am a little bit of a compulsive list maker. I think a lot of us obsessive movie watchers are. I have several very long movie related lists out there and some of them are kind of crazy. So in order to give my crazy a purpose, I want to share a portion of my lists with the viewing public. Each month I will take a year from history and count down my top ten and bottom ten movies of that year. I think this will be a fun way to exhibit my excellent tastes in movies.
What better way to kick off this new project than to pick the year I was born: 1988. It was truly the best year in my life. This was the year of the Rain Mans, the Animation with Live Action mix and one of Tim Burton’s best films. This was also the year of Arnnie, Stallone, and mullets and porn mustaches (at least on my Dad)
10. Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Director: Robert Zemeckis. Starring Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd
This a sweet little movie that I thoroughly enjoy to this day. I first watched it in an animation class in college, and was mad at my parents for not showing me this movie when I was a kid. On lazy Saturday afternoons, I pop this in and instantly feel relaxed.
9. Heathers. Director: Michael Lehmann. Starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.
This movie is a left over of my angst years. They used to play this over and over again on TBS late at night. I had a major crush on Christian Slater and wish that I could be Winona Ryder. Wasn’t their love so enviable? I mean killing popular kids for fun in high school while making out is just glorious. Plus the dialogue they slung at each other was delightfully catty. Remember “What’s your damage, Heather?” Yeah. Totally Awesome.
8. Beetle Juice. Director: Tim Burton Starring Winona Ryder, Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, and Alec Baldwin.
I watched this movie when I was really young, only to have it scare the living pants off of me. But as I grew older and became angsty (see number nine), I revisited this movie and adored it. Like most angsty teens, Tim Burton was my God and this masterpiece was just another example of how amazing he can be. If only he could recapture the spirit of his youth.
7. Another Woman. Director: Woody Allen. Starring Gena Rowlands and Mia Farrow.
I am a voyeur at heart. I am always super curious about my neighbors and the strangers I encounter on a daily basis. I really responded to Marion’s (Gena Rowlands) ability to get wrapped up in the life of someone she had never met before and her realizations that her life needs to be changed as well as this stranger’s. Gena Rowlands is flawless in this movie. I worship at the altar that is Gena Rowlands.
6. Hairspray. Director: John Waters. Starring Ricki Lake and Divine.
I didn’t really get this movie upon first viewing. I didn’t understand why Tracy’s mom was a drag queen, why there was such a fascination with the hairstyles of the sixties, and why the director chose such weird ideas to populate his movie with. And then I watched Cry Baby, released a couple of years after this movie. I finally understood that this movie was tame compared to the other stuff Waters put out and his unique voice should be celebrated. If you have only watched the inferior modern day movie, do yourself a favor and watch the original. It is weirder which makes it instantly more interesting.
5. A Fish Called Wanda. Director: Charles Crichton. Starring John Cleese, Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis.
It really is a pity that Kevin Kline doesn’t get more oddball work these days. He was a comic genius in this caper comedy written by the most prolific Monty Python alum. John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis aren’t bad either. This movie should have won the Oscar for Best Movie, not that silly Rain Man.
4. Cinema Paradiso. Director: Giuseppe Tornatore. Starring Philippe Noiret, Salvatore Cascio, and Marco Leonardi
Although I found this film wildly uneven, slagging off in the last hour into an unnecessary love affair, I so thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the movie that I put it this high on the list. I love the child like wonder of visiting the local movie theatre and discovering new worlds like the main character in this film did. After all I am a sucker for a movie about movies.
3. The Thin Blue Line. Director: Errol Morris.
Errol Morris took his camera and sought the truth behind a police officer’s death in this groundbreaking documentary. After this movie, Errol Morris became the best documentarian still working today for a good reason. He was able to take a small case and completely reveal every detail, fact and misconception to the point that he was able to overturn a wrongful conviction. This movie shows the power of not only filmmaking in general but documentary filmmaking in particular.
2. Salaam Bombay! Director: Mira Nair. Starring Shafiq Syed.
This film was hard to watch. It affected me in a way no other movie on this list did. To realize that children live like this little boy did in Bombay is devastating. I will probably never watch this movie again, but it will probably stay as one of my favorite movies of this year for a long time.
1. My Neighbor Totoro. Director Hayao Miyazaki.
Although not my favorite Miyazaki film, I still desperately love the child like wonder he is able to capture in this film. The everyday tragedy of a sick mother gone from home can produce beauty in a child’s eyes. Plus don’t you just want your a Totoro for your own?
Check back next Friday for my bottom ten of 1988. It should be a rollicking good time.